It can be so physically and mentally exhausting when your baby won’t sleep in the bassinet. In these scenarios, usually your baby prefers to sleep on you or in your arms. At first you might have found this adorable and loved the cuddles, but as the weeks fly by you’re finding yourself being held captive and having other things that need your attention.
What Is A Bassinet?
A bassinet is a bed specifically for babies from birth to about four months old. They are shaped like an oval, have mesh or cloth sides, and are generally designed for easy mobility.
The base of the bassinet raises the bed level to the average adult’s waistline. Many parents have found this taller structure helpful in laying their baby down.
If you’ve had a C-section, for instance, you may not be able to lean over the side of the crib to lay your baby down and pick them up, so the bassinet becomes a better option.
Bassinets are available in a variety of colors and decor. Many even come with ruffled designs, hoods, and storage beneath the bed. Over the years, interesting features have been added to bassinets, like:
Expert tip: Once your baby reaches 20 pounds or can roll over on their own, a bassinet is no longer a safe sleeping option. Based on the development and growth of your baby, plan to transition them out of the bassinet around four months of age.
- Smaller sleeping space for your newborn baby (transitioning from a tight womb to a small sleeping area rather than a large crib)
- Easy mobility (you’re able to move your baby around the house)
- Weighs less than a crib
- Convenient for room sharing
- Perfect for small living spaces
- Less expensive than a crib
- Easier to lay your baby down
- Smaller size and high center of gravity could pose a potential tipping hazard
- Used only for a few months
2 Reasons Putting Baby to Sleep in a Bassinet Is Important:
- Safe Sleep. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, your baby should sleep on a firm, flat surface which is a bassinet, crib or pack and play. This safe sleep guideline helps to minimize the risks of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome,)
- Long Game. When it comes to your newborn sleep we often don’t really know what we’re doing 🙂 and we’re so in love with our precious little person that we promote sleeping in arms. However, when it comes to baby sleep you want to think about your long game. Where do you want your baby to sleep when she’s 8 months? Ultimately she’ll need to be contained in a safe environment for sleep. That means introducing that environment now when preferences and habits are being formed.
4 Reasons Why Your Newborn Won’t Sleep in the Bassinet
I’ve worked with many parents who have babies who will only sleep in arms. Their ages vary from 4 weeks up to 13 months. I recently worked with a 2.5 year old who would only nap in arms. Why is that? While the drive to sleep is biological, the way we sleep is a learned habit and these habits start as early as 4 to 8 weeks of age. During that window of time you are teaching your baby what sleep looks like. At 4 months babies hit the 4 month sleep regression where they wake up to the world around them. This manifests with waking up more at night and taking shorter naps. If your baby will only sleep in arms this becomes a very trying time.
It seems to me that some kids fight to sleep in arms more than other babies. My first question for babies who only sleep in arms is probing any circumstances that might have led them to seek the comfort of human touch more than the average child.
These circumstances include:
- Reflux – silent reflux and true GERD
- Parents are often directed to hold baby upright in arms after feeding
- Reflux can be aggravated by being on their back – sleeping on someone often has the baby on an angle
- Gas – sensitive digestive track
- Mom having low milk supply/tongue tie or latch challenges
When I was going through this I had no idea that babies have “awake times” that help guide a parent to know when they should be sleeping. I kept watching my son for “cues” that he was tired. I wasn’t very good at it really. I kept mistaking the signs of fatigue for hunger and I would nurse him. He was more tired than hungry and kept having a short feed and then falling asleep at the breast. This is very common. In addition many parents have a naptime or bedtime that is too late and when they try to put their little ones down in the bassinet they refuse. They are overtired and cry at pretty much everything. If your baby is overtired it’s probably not the best time to try the bassinet again.
The third reason babies refuse to sleep in the bassinet is because of habit. Often parents have an underlying condition that might have been overlooked such as reflux and these babies wanted to be in arms more than average babies. Or perhaps parents have been told to hold their baby upright after feeding and baby dozes off. In these cases baby learns that falling asleep happens in arms. In the newborn stage often this transfer to the crib or bassinet is feasible but as baby hits the 2 month mark she becomes more aware and rejects the transfer. She wakes and cries as soon as her toe his the mattress. Sleep is a learned habit, so she’s learned it happens in arms.
When my son was born I NEVER wanted to hear him fuss or cry and wanted him to be the happiest boy around. So I never let him fuss at all. I always picked him right away. After helping hundreds of parents teach their little ones to sleep I can tell you one of the best things you can do in the early months is “be an observer.” You may put your little one down in the bassinet and he is allowed to express that he would prefer to still be in your arms. You can offer him comfort, touch and love while he’s in the bassinet and help him settle there. You don’t have to pick him up instantaneously. There’s nothing wrong with 3-5 minutes of fussing and can help you BIG TIME in the long term.
When my daughter was born I was determined to do things differently than with my son. I also knew what children were capable of. I loved watching HGTV in the afternoons with her sleeping on my chest. But I was also able to put her down in the crib for 2 to 3 naps per day while I offered her comfort. She would squawk, sometimes cry for a few minutes but the tears didn’t rattle me like they did the first time. I knew no harm could be done of her crying for a couple of minutes with me right beside her patting and soothing her verbally. Being patient and being an observer I learned to know her different cries and meet the root need, rather than muting them with the boob as I did with my first child. With my son I always picked him up right away and because of that he never wanted to sleep in the bassinet and sleep was a battle.
4 things you can do to help your baby sleep in the bassinet.
It is super frustrating when your newborn will not sleep in the bassinet. Here are 4 things you can do to help your baby sleep in the bassinet.
- Work on the first nap of the day in the bassinet. This is usually the easiest nap to get a baby down for. Try the pick up and put down method to help make it happen. Put them down offer comfort with touch and verbally shsh.. Give your baby 2 -3 minutes to settle, if they are getting wound up, pick them up and calm them and then try again.
- Focus on the timing of sleep. Most newborns need to be back to sleep between 45 minutes and 1 hour up to 2 months and about 1.5 hours in the 3rd month. If you surpass this time (except before bed during the witching hour) it can be harder to get your baby to fall asleep and stay asleep.
- Swaddle. Swaddling can help your little one settle more easily as it mimics the womb and decreases limb activity which can be distracting.
- Move the bassinet a few feet away from your bed. Sometimes having them so close can be distracting for both of you to sleep. Move it a few feet away.
- Be an observer. Give the bassinet a few minutes to work with your comfort.
The 7 Best Bassinets of 2022
Best Overall: HALO BassiNest Swivel Sleeper Premiere Series
- Four-point base for stability
- 360-degree swivel design
- Convenient for breastfeeding parents
- Difficult to move
The HALO BassiNest Swivel Sleeper Premiere Series is our favorite pick because this baby bassinet has many features both baby and parents and caregivers will love. This bassinet offers a soft spot for your baby to sleep and also a nightlight and floor light, a sound machine with volume control, and two vibration levels to help with soothing. The bassinet bed rotates 360 degrees so you can easily access your baby without disturbing them.
There are two storage pockets for any necessities, and a fitted sheet is included. It’s safe for a baby to sleep in immediately after birth and has a weight limit of 20 pounds. One downside to note is that this bassinet doesn’t have wheels, which can make sliding out of bed quietly kind of tricky.
Product Weight: 30 pounds | Product Dimensions: 36 x 45 x 45 inches | Weight Limit: 20 pounds
Best Budget: Dream On Me Karley Bassinet
- Lightweight and easy to move
- Adjustable double canopy keeps bugs away
- Compact folding allows for easy storage in small spaces
- Height is not adjustable
- Mattress cover sold separately
- Zipper on canopy may get stuck easily
Available in several color options, this bassinet is lightweight, has a fold-down design, and has a double sleeping canopy with mesh panels so that parents can still check on their infant while also giving baby a little extra shade and protection while they sleep. The bassinet has a 25-pound weight capacity, a durable metal frame, and a plush sleeping mattress that will keep baby cozy and safe.
Product Weight: 12.4 pounds | Product Dimensions: 33 x 19.5 x 37 inches | Weight Limit: 25 pounds
Best Splurge: Happiest Baby SNOO Smart Sleeper Baby Bassinet
- Convenient smartphone/tablet app for tracking and remote parental controls
- Responsive technology automatically adjusts to soothe your baby
- Sleek, mid-century modern design
- Speed on bassinet only controlled on app
- Height is not adjustable
- App may have trouble connecting at times
If you’re looking for the top-of-the-line innovation for your bassinet (in an attractive mid-century modern design), you can’t beat the SNOO. This bassinet senses when your little one is making newborn sounds, like grunting or just simply crying. The bassinet will then gently swing and rock the baby while also playing white noise for even more soothing.
The SNOO features convenient parent controls that can remotely adjust its motion, sound, and cry sensitivity via an app on their tablet or smartphone. The app also tracks baby’s sleep progress and will alert parents if their baby needs more attention. All of these smart features contribute to the high price, but notably, SNOO also offers a rental program to make it more accessible and affordable for parents.
Product Weight: 38 pounds | Product Dimensions: 30 x 16 x 32 inches | Weight Limit: 25 pounds
Best Compact: Fisher-Price Soothing View Bassinet
- Folds super slim
- Lightweight frame
- Can be rocked or locked in place
- No storage pocket
- Must be manually rocked
- No music or sounds
For a bassinet that’s compact, this pick from Fisher-Price can’t be beat. The Soothing View Bassinet is collapsible, folding down to a slim width of just four inches. When it’s not collapsed, it doesn’t take up much space either.
With the simple switch of a button, the bassinet can be gently pushed to help soothe baby. When rocking mode isn’t being used, you can switch the bassinet to stationary mode.
Product Weight: 13 pounds | Product Dimensions: 22.44 x 33.07 x 24.41 inches | Weight Limit: 20 pounds
Best for Soothing: 4moms mamaRoo Sleep Bassinet
- Height is adjustable
- Smartphone app remotely controls motion and sounds
- Assembly requires no tools
- App may have trouble connecting at times
The 4moms mamaRoo is designed to not only give your baby a safe spot to sleep until they are 25 pounds but also help soothe them so they can get better quality sleep. The bassinet has five different motions, five speeds for rocking and swaying the baby to sleep, and a sound machine. It is also designed with a timer feature to help develop a bedtime routine for baby and can be controlled by parents via smartphone.
Product Weight: 30 pounds | Product Dimensions: 24 x 34 x 39 inches | Weight Limit: 25 pounds
Best Stroller-Compatible: UPPAbaby Stroller Bassinet
- Extendable UPF 50+ sun shade canopy
- Included bug shield
- Perforated mattress and ventilated base for breathability
- Bassinet stand sold separately
- Only fits UPPAbaby strollers
- Bassinet stand is costly
Compatible with the popular Uppababy Cruz stroller (and sold with the Uppababy Vista stroller), this lightweight bassinet is a great choice for parents that want an option they can use overnight and on the go. Suitable for infants up to 25 pounds, this bassinet features a vented base and mattress as well as a UPF 50+ sunshade and canopy that unzips for improved airflow. The Uppababy bassinet can be placed on a flat, stable surface, elevated on the Uppababy Bassinet Stand (sold separately), or simply click it onto the stroller for naps around the neighborhood.
Product Weight: 8.8 pounds | Product Dimensions: 30.25 x 16.6 x 24.75 inches | Weight Limit: 25 pounds
Best Play Yard: Graco Pack ‘n Play On the Go Playard
- Easy pack-and-store design for portability
- Wheels on the base for maneuverability
- Removable toy bar for visual stimulation
- Height is not adjustable
- Difficult to assemble for some
- Does not have a carrying handle
Graco’s Pack ‘n Play is a popular collapsible play yard, thanks to how easy it is to set up, take down, and transport. This style includes a bassinet insert, which makes it safe and easy to use from birth up until your baby weighs 15 pounds. The removable toy bar provides extra visual stimulation for your baby.
Product Weight: 22.9 pounds | Product Dimensions: 40 x 28.5 x 29 inches | Weight Limit: 15 pounds
During the newborn days, any bassinet that will keep your baby sleeping for longer than an hour at a time is worth buying. For a great place to start, consider the HALO BassiNest Swivel Sleeper Premiere Series (view on Amazon). It features a nightlight, floor light, sound machine with volume control, and two vibration levels to help with soothing. There’s also the SNOO Smart Baby Bassinet (view on Amazon), which can sense when baby is crying and triggers a rocking motion.
What to Look for in a Baby Bassinet
While many baby bassinets are much smaller than a standard crib, you’ll still want to think about the size of the bassinet before purchasing. Whether you’re buying before or after your little one arrives, spend time considering where you plan to use the bassinet. Take measurements of the space to ensure you’re not buying a bassinet you will have to return because it didn’t fit.
Some bassinets are foldable, portable, and collapse, like the Graco Pack’ n Play On the Go Playard (view on Amazon). While not ideal, if you’re limited on space, you can simply set up the Pack’ n Play or another bassinet where it’s needed for naps and nighttime and then put it away when necessary. Overall, you don’t want the bassinet too close to the bed in case any pillows or blankets were to fall off from your bed in the middle of the night.
Many bassinets are more than just a sleep space for babies, thanks to their modern designs and additional features. Some additional features include a canopy, play yard, stroller attachments, and music. These additional features aren’t necessary but definitely come in handy whether you’re traveling or trying to get baby to sleep at home, so you’ll want to consider if you can live without them or absolutely need them.
For example, the UPPAbaby Stroller Bassinet (view on Amazon) has a sunshade, attaches to a stroller, can attach to a bassinet stand, and even comes with a bug shield. These additional features on this particular bassinet are great for families who like to be outdoors often, as the bug shield and sunshade will keep baby safe on a hot day. Or, it can be used at home for naps and bedtime instead.
It may feel like a no-brainer that a bassinet is meant for a baby to sleep in, but what many parents and caregivers don’t realize is that considering the purpose of the bassinet will ensure you get the most bang for your buck. Some bassinets are best for travel, while others have rocking features or are supposed to mimic co-sleeping but in a safer way than bedsharing, which the American Academy of Pediatrics advises against for all babies.2
For the bassinets aimed at keeping you close to your little one, one of the sides can be zipped down for diaper changes, feedings, or even playtime. You want to ensure all sides are up while baby is sleeping. There are also bassinets designed with rocking or vibrating motions to help put a baby to sleep.
So, while you want to keep safe sleep in mind first, also consider your lifestyle and if the bassinet can be used for other purposes outside of the home. If your family likes to travel, think about bassinets that are travel-friendly and can fold easily while on the go.
How long can my baby sleep in a bassinet?
How long your little one can sleep in a bassinet will depend on many factors, such as their age, weight, and the milestones they’ve hit. Many bassinets have age and weight restrictions, so it’s important to follow those guidelines. Going beyond the recommendations from the manufacturer could lead to injury, especially if your child is over the weight and age limit and has reached certain milestones.
Your best bet is to read your bassinet’s manual thoroughly to ensure you understand all recommendations. There are bassinets on the market that state that parents and caregivers should discontinue use once baby starts rolling, which can surprisingly happen very quickly after birth for some babies.
Can my baby just skip the bassinet and go straight to a crib?
In short, yes. There’s no requirement for you to use a bassinet. They are convenient for travel and space-saving, and the additional features are a necessity for some parents and caregivers. However, babies can start sleeping in a crib immediately after birth. You’ll want to think about your lifestyle and what will work best for your family. If you don’t have the space for a crib just yet, a bassinet is a perfect alternative option for a safe sleep space.
When should my baby go from the bassinet to a crib?
Check your bassinet’s weight and age guidelines, but your baby may begin rolling or sitting up before they meet those guidelines. Monitor them closely—you may need to transition to the crib sooner than the bassinet manufacturer states.
If your baby is less than 8 weeks of age you want to be taking notes and observing your baby’s behavior to see if there could be reflux or gas at play making her uncomfortable and seeing your comfort more than the average child. If not, there is still time to work on getting your baby to sleep in the bassinet and introducing this new sleep space. For babies 4 months and older, if she will only sleep on you, you will likely have to do some “sleep teaching” to teach your baby that sleep can happen in a different way and work on undoing learned behavior.